How to Make Mullein Salve (3 recipes)

In this article, you’ll learn how to make three herbal salves featuring mullein infused oil:

  • Basic Mullein Salve – for dry, chapped, or cracked skin
  • Mullein First Aid Salve – for minor scrapes, scratches
  • Mullein Chest Rub – for respiratory support
hand holding a tin of salve in front of a mullein plant

Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is an herbal weed you’ve likely seen growing on roadsides and fields.

In its second year of growth, mullein puts out a really tall flower spike that’s hard to miss!

All parts of the mullein plant are useful to humans – except the seeds, but the birds enjoy those.

In this article we’re going to focus on using the flower, since it’s preferred by many herbalists for oil infusions.

The leaf is more commonly used to make tea that’s good for respiratory issues like dry cough or bronchitis, but if that’s all you have available for salve-making, you can use that instead.

Preferably though, instead of the leaf, you can buy organic Mullein Flowers or a ready-made Mullein Infused Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs.

large mullein plant and mullein rosette of leaves

First – if you’re not sure what mullein is, you can learn all about how to forage (or grow) mullein in this article I wrote for Unruly Gardening:

Growing or Foraging for Mullein (+harvesting & preserving tips)

Once you have some mullein in hand, it’s time to make salve!

A salve is a mix of helpful herbal infused oil(s) combined with a wax (most commonly beeswax) to create a beneficial product that’s easy to spread on your skin.

So to make a salve, we first have to make an infused oil.

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hand holding a jar of mullein flower oil in front of a mullein plant

Step 1: Make Mullein Infused Oil for Salve

To make infused oil, you’ll need:

  • freshly dried mullein flowers
  • the oil of your choice – apricot kernel, sweet almond, or sunflower are good choices

There are a few ways to infuse oil, we’ll cover a quick way, a medium way, and a slower way.

The Quick Infusing Method

This method works best if you don’t have the time or desire to wait a few weeks for infused oil.

  1. Fill a glass canning jar 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with crumbled up dried mullein flowers (or leaves, if flowers aren’t available.) You can also mix in other dried herbs such as calendula, yarrow, etc – see the salve recipes below for ideas.
  2. Fill the jar almost to the top with your chosen oil – sunflower oil can be good for most skin types. For a slightly lighter feel, try apricot kernel or rice bran oil. You can also mix and match your favorite oils.
  3. Set the uncovered jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water, forming a makeshift double boiler of sorts.
  4. Place the pan over a low burner and heat for around 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Don’t allow the water to evaporate out of the pan, and monitor the oil while it’s heating.
  6. Remove from the heat and strain* out enough oil for your recipe when needed. You can top off the jar with more oil and allow it to continue infusing the slow way until needed again.
  7. Store the remaining infused oil in a dark spot or cabinet out of direct sunlight and heat. Shelf life should be about 1+ year.

* Be sure to strain mullein oil really well – through a coffee filter or square of old clean t-shirt, to catch the hairs on the plant that may irritate your skin.

The Medium Sunny Window Infusing Method

  1. Repeat steps 1 and 2 from above, and fill a jar with crumbled herbs and fill with oil. Put a lid on the jar.
  2. Place the jar in a warm sunny window for a week or two, then transfer to a darker spot to infuse another week or so. The heat from the warm sunny window helps gently speed up the infusing process a bit.

The Slower Traditional Infusing Method

  1. This way requires more patience and time, but results in a strongly infused and lovely oil.
  2. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above, and fill a jar with crumbled dried herbs and oil.
  3. Instead of infusing over heat, you’ll put a lid on the jar and tuck it away in a cabinet or on a shelf and let it infuse for at least 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to.
  4. Strain out the oil needed for your recipe.
tin of salve surrounded by mullein, plantain, and calendula

Step 2: Make the Salve

First, we’ll cover how to make a basic mullein salve that requires just infused oil and beeswax. Then, I’ll show you how to tinker with the basic recipe to create different kinds of salve, such as a first aid salve and a chest rub.

Basic Mullein Salve

This is an all-purpose no-frills mullein salve. It’s helpful for dry, cracked, chapped skin and could be used on minor scrapes and scratches similar to the first aid salve below. You can even use it as a lip balm for chapped lips.

Ingredients for Basic Mullein Salve:

  • 1.6 oz (45 g) mullein flower infused oil
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) beeswax

Directions to Make the Salves:

  1. Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a small heatproof jar or container.
  2. Place the jar into a saucepan with a few inches of water, forming a double boiler.
  3. Heat over medium-low heat until completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a 2-ounce tin or glass jar.
  5. If the recipe calls for essential oils, add after removing from heat.
  6. Let cool before putting the top on the container.
  7. Store in a cool dry place. Shelf life is at least 1 year.

Mullein First Aid Salve

Basic mullein salve alone is really nice, but to amp it up into a stronger first aid salve, consider adding the following herbs to the infusion:

Calendula (Calenduala officinalis) – which has antiseptic, anti-itching, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plantain (Plantago major) – which is a common leafy weed that cools and soothes, and is one of the best herbs for skin irritations, cuts, bug bites, and scrapes.

We’ll also add a couple of drops of lavender and tea tree essential oil to boost the healing power.

Ingredients for Mullein First Aid Salve:

  • 1.6 oz (45 g) oil infused with mullein, calendula, plantain
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) beeswax
  • 1 drop tea tree essential oil + 3 drops lavender essential oil

Mullein & Eucalyptus Chest Rub

Mullein has an affinity for the lungs and is often used internally and externally to help dry unproductive coughs and bronchitis. In this salve variation, we’re going to add in essential oils that are helpful to use in vapor or chest rubs.

It’s created for older teens and adults. For younger kids, try replacing the essential oils with something gentler, such as KidSafe Sniffle Stopper by Plant Therapy.

Ingredients for Mullein & Eucalyptus Chest Rub

  • 1.6 oz (45 g) oil infused with mullein
  • 0.25 oz (7 g) beeswax
  • 30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops white camphor essential oil
  • optional: 2 drops manuka essential oil

References & Sources

Cech, Richo. Making Plant Medicine.

Foret, Rosalee de la; Han, Emily. Wild Remedies.

Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal, a Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants.

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Jan
 

Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Toni says:

    Hi there! Love your 101 Easy Homemade Products book.
    You may want to have a look at this video from An American Homestead.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmjZ5TnZMXY
    It’s rather interesting at the very least and food for thought on the use of crushed seeds in a salve, maybe?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Toni! Thanks for sharing! I remember reading that about the seeds stunning fish – very interesting quirk of the plant for sure! (But yes, definitely illegal & not recommended.) :)

  • Kathyinozarks says:

    these sound great thank you

  • Jessie G says:

    Jen! First off I am obsessed with everything you share and love all.your recipes!
    Second…as I am new to making my own stuff I don’t have a ton of essential oils on hand…actually I have like 1 or 2 lol
    With being said can I still make the chest rub without the Manuka and camphor?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jessie, Thanks for the kind words! So happy you like the recipes! :)
      Yes, you could definitely leave out the manuka.
      The camphor helps give the rub some extra oomph (it’s very potent!), but eucalyptus and peppermint alone are great too.
      What you could do is make the chest rub with the eucalyptus and peppermint, and add an extra 2 or 3 drops each of the eucalyptus & peppermint oils to help make up for no camphor or manuka. :)

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